A colourful plant-filled graphic design workspace in Montrouge, France

Graphic Design Workspace with Lots of Plants in Montrouge, France

Drawing and video games have been Mathieu’s passions since he was a child. That’s what drew him to the visual arts, he says. When building his home office setup, Mathieu turned it into a living, breathing space where he could work, play and create.

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Name: Mathieu B.

Location: Montrouge, a small town and commune next to Paris, France

Occupation: Graphic Designer

Room size: 25 m² (269 ft²)

Cost of setup: $4,5K

Social media: Instagram, Reddit, Twitter

Website: Mathieu Brageul

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m 38 years old, I have two daughters and I work as a freelance graphic designer in the Paris area.

In 2005, I graduated from the Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués (LISAA) in Rennes and began working immediately after completing my studies.

Initially, I worked for a design studio, followed by a newspaper, and eventually, I secured a position as an illustrator for real estate developers.

Mathieu Brageul, a graphic designer from France, at his home workspace
The graphic designer Mathieu has 17 years of experience, including 13 years as a freelancer

Since moving to Paris about eight years ago to settle down with my partner, I’ve specialised in working with local authorities and communities, such as the town hall, the community of communes, and other administrative authorities.

Prior to my relocation, I lived in Brittany.

To this day, I continue to collaborate with small and medium-sized organisations to meet their visual design needs.

A colourful plant-filled graphic design home office in France
Mathieu has always had a strong love for drawing. It’s likely what guided him to pursue a career in the visual arts, he says

In addition to my work as a graphic designer, I also set aside time for drawing.

Sometimes it’s for specific projects (like greeting cards), while other times, it’s just for pleasure (such as drawing vacation souvenirs).

As for my passion, without hesitation, I would say it’s video games.

I devote a lot of my free time to playing them (both old and new), and enjoy exploring all sorts of games.

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Take us through your setup

Item Model
Monitor LG 32UD89-W 32″
Monitor mount ErGear EGSS6-E
Laptop MacBook Pro 15″ 2019
Speakers Bose SoundLink Mini II Special Edition
Headphones Sony WH-1000xM3, Apple AirPods 2
Keyboard Logitech MX Keys for Mac
Mouse Logitech MX Master
Desk shelf Homemade
Desk mat Noname mat from AliExpress
Docking station VAVA Hub USB C
Tablet 1 Wacom Intuos 4
Tablet 2 iPad Air 4 with Apple Pencil
Hard drive Synology DS214 DiskStation 2 Bay NAS
Gaming console 1 Nintendo Switch
Gaming console 2 Xbox Series S and a lot of retro handhelds consoles for gaming moments

I’ve been working on a Mac for a little over 12 years.

I quickly switched to two monitors and have always had an enormous desk.

I love having space and being able to make a mess.

However, I can’t start a work day if it’s not tidy. So I have my little cleaning routine every morning or so.

During the day, I’m at my desk almost all the time. When I’m not working there, I’m on the Internet or playing video games.

I’ve carefully crafted this space to suit my preferences and provide the utmost comfort.

It took me a long time to find the perfect desk, though.

I wanted it to be huge, plain, and white with a wooden top.

I knew exactly what I wanted and eventually found it on one Spanish website.

A reading and video gaming spot next to the WFH desk setup
Mathieu makes a conscious effort to carve out some free time in his day, whether it be taking a brief coffee break to read or indulging in a bit of video gaming

Another thing I love about my workspace is the natural plants (Pilea, Oxalys and Monstera).

I’ve got them everywhere in my home, and my office is no exception.

My apartment is perfectly exposed for the plants to grow well. No direct sunlight, but massive windows on the entire side of the room.

A neat and bright graphic design home office setup, featuring an LG monitor, a MacBook Pro, an IKEA JÄRVFJÄLLET office chair, bookshelves, plants, and a limited edition illustration Akira by Mathieu Bablet on the wall
Mathieu has experimented with coloured LED strips and similar lighting options but hasn’t been entirely satisfied with the results

There is one aspect that could be improved in my workspace, and that is the lighting for nighttime work sessions.

Currently, I have a classic desk lamp that was gifted to me by my girlfriend.

While it is lovely, I think that one or two additional light sources may be necessary for the workspace.

As for my next purchase, it will likely be an extra screen installed above my laptop or a better computer hub with more ports.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

My favourite item is definitely the limited edition illustration Akira by Mathieu Bablet, which is located right in front of me.

He is a French comic book artist who does science fiction.

I love his work.

I also have another large poster of his, themed Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, in my daughters’ room.

What apps or tools do you use to get things done?

On a daily basis, I use Adobe Creative Cloud. Like all graphic designers, I guess.

To stay organised, I use two classic Apple apps— Notes and Calendar. It’s very convenient to have access to your notes from any location.

However, I always have a notebook and a pen at hand to take notes and draw ideas that come to my mind.

I recently discovered Procreate.

What an application!

For €10 ($11), you can have a professional tool in your hands. The possibilities are unlimited.

And it’s so intuitive.

What books, blogs or podcasts recently caught your attention?

Right now, I’m reading the graphic novel called The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel. She is such a talented writer!

I read a lot of French comics and novels, and I listen to a lot of podcasts while working.

My favourites have to be video game related.

I recommend two of them: Les Démons du MIDI (but be careful, it’s in French!) and The Sound of Play.

Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?

Surround yourself with things you love.

Plants are an absolute must. I prefer to keep them within my line of vision, and taking care of them helps me feel more relaxed.

18 Unkillable Plants for a Home Office with No Windows
Brighten up your dark or windowless space with low-maintenance indoor houseplants.

Go for a comfortable workstation with a proper office chair (this is important!), some good music, and a steaming cup of tea or coffee in front of you.

The crab pen holder holding the Wacom stylus
This cute little crab can be used to hold pens, styluses, and other small items, such as glasses or keys

What does your typical day look like?

I have children. So this is often what conditions my waking up and my bedtime.

My daughters get up very early (6:30 am) and rush to my room, so I go to bed early (before 11 pm) so I’m not too tired.

The first thing I do once my daughters are dropped off at the nursery and school — I turn on my computer and put my devices (watch and phone) to charge.

I take the opportunity to check out what’s new on Instagram, Reddit, and such.

A well-organised graphic designer’s home desk setup with shelves for some plants, comics, books, and figurines on the wall
Mathieu prefers to do creative work in the afternoon. He finds it works better that way, although he’s not sure why. He typically saves administrative tasks like billing for the weekend

After a bit of tidying up the room and my desk (my girls always leave their toys lying around), I check my emails, sort them and answer the most urgent ones.

When this is all done, I can really kick off my day, which is around 9 am.

I spend about eight hours a day at my desk. I work there, but it’s also where I play video games.

There’s always a controller or a handheld console near me.

I play a lot of old games.

I recently modified my Gameboy so that I can play the games of my childhood. I love it!

Right now, I’m playing Drill Dozer for the first time. This is such a fun puzzle game!

I frequently go swimming — the municipal pool is 300 m from my house. I also do pilates once a week, as well as gym sessions and physical therapy. I have a joint disease, so staying still is not good for me.

I’m lucky enough to live right next to Paris, and I try to make the most of it.

I visit exhibitions — the last one I was able to see was the Claude Monet and Joan Mitchell exhibition. It was fascinating.

Since I’m a freelancer, I work from home, and it’s been more than 13 years now.

While the coronavirus has not changed much about my way of working (except for having my wife and daughters nearby), it has impacted the number of projects I receive. As I mainly work in the events industry, everything came to a standstill.

As a result, I am considering getting an off-site office.

This would allow me to have a dedicated workspace and better separate my professional and personal life.

I’m currently looking at co-working spaces near my home.

Your tips for working from home?

Setting up a routine is the most important thing for me.

It’s important to start with a routine that you impose on yourself and eventually becomes a habit.

While it may be tempting to start your workday in your pyjamas without taking a shower, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Personally, I cannot do it.

A productive home office desk setup with an LG monitor, a MacBook Pro, and a Logitech MX Keyboard for Mac
Having a productive desk setup at home hasn’t stopped Mathieu from exploring the idea of getting an off-site space. With an external workspace, he would be able to have a dedicated environment for work

Working from home means taking time for yourself, such as taking breaks, going out, and socialising.

Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re not actively looking for them, allowing you to step back from the project at hand.

At home, there are no colleagues around to offer their opinions.

Short Shout-Outs 🔊

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